"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Seasoned broadcaster and anti-racism campaigner calls for an end to hate against Chinese people Featured

Amidst growing bigotry against people of Asian origin in the light of COVID 19, Shushma Datt has urged everyone to maintain calm and be kind.

Datt, who is the CEO of Burnaby-based Spice Radio, had started a campaign against racism on the birth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. in January 2015.

#HandsAgainstRacism which has entered its sixth year is aimed to educate people against discrimination in any form.  

To mark the beginning of Asian Heritage Month, she called upon her listeners and the community at large not to indulge in scapegoating of people of Asian origin, especially those of Chinese descent, when the entire world needs to fight back against COVID 19 together.

Close to 250,000 human lives have been lost to the pandemic that originated in China. Since then, Canada has witnessed a spike in hateful incidents against people of Asian ancestry. Vancouver Police Department has already confirmed this.  The business of Chinese restaurants has also been affected.

Datt believes that this is both because of ignorance and the anti-Chinese rhetoric of right wing political figures like US President Donald Trump. Trump has been accusing China of spreading the disease and calling it “China virus”. She asked the audience of Spice Radio on Sunday morning to support Chinese restaurants and other local businesses to strengthen the Canadian economy.

Early this year, the BC Minister of State for Childcare went to Spice Radio to participate in the campaign and share her concerns over growing hostilities against Chinese people.

Katrina Chen, who is of Chinese origin, noted that there were attempts to polarise people in Canada by extreme right wing forces which are trying to take advantage of the current crisis.

Only recently, Conservative MP and leadership candidate Derek Sloan questioned the nationalism of Canada’s top doctor. Theresa Tam, who was born in Hong Kong. has been giving updates on COVID 19 in Canada and advising the government on necessary measures to contain the virus. Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh denounced Sloan's statement.

Datt thinks that Trudeau has shown leadership by trying to take the Chinese community into his embrace. “Unlike Trump, he isn’t bashing any particular group of people”, she said.  Notably, Trudeau had gone to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate his daughter’s birthday to dispel fears. Years ago, Chinese people faced a similar situation in the aftermath of the deadly SARS virus that hit the country. The then-Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien also went to a Chinese restaurant to show his solidarity. 

In the meantime, Spice Radio named Harsha Walia and Kal Dosanjh as this year’s recipients of their annual awards for fighting against racism. Walia is a published author and a social justice activist, whereas Dosanjh used to be with Vancouver Police and has a group called Kids Play that educate youngsters to keep away from violence and racism. The event was scheduled to be held in Surrey on March 21, but had to be postponed indefinitely due to the public health emergency. Nevertheless, the conversation on racism continues on Spice Radio airwaves.

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